Patient Stories

Patient stories from Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley, California

Grateful Parents Talk About Their Leap Day Twins

Posted on Mar 4, 2016

Leap Baby Couple 2

Ryan and Summer Erickson, of Oakland, are the proud parents of twin boys with one born on Leap Day.

Ryan and Summer Erickson, of Oakland, are proud parents of premature twins Miles, born Feb. 28; and Walter, born Leap Day, Feb. 29; at Alta Bates Summit.

“We are so very grateful to the entire care team that has taken such great care of us,” Summer says. “As scary and overwhelming as the whole experience has been, we’ve had a lot of calming moments because we know Walter and Miles are in the best of hands.” Read More

Ask an Expert About Non-Invasive TAVR Heart-Valve Surgery

Posted on Feb 17, 2016

Patients can recover quickly from the non-invasive procedure.

Patients can recover quickly from the non-invasive procedure.

By Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

Sutter Health

There’s new hope for patients with aortic stenosis who are at high or extreme risk for open heart surgery.

Severe aortic stenosis, or narrowing of the heart’s aortic valve, causes fainting, fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and heart failure. Without treatment, many patients with severe aortic stenosis ultimately die of this condition.

A new treatment option, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), can be beneficial for patients at high risk for open heart surgery. This minimally invasive procedure allows replacing the aortic valve without open heart surgery.

A catheter is placed through a small incision in the groin or in the arteries in the upper left side of the chest. This catheter is used to deliver a new aortic valve to the heart.

The procedure is generally done with conscious sedation, which is easier on the patient and shortens recovery time. Many patients go home on the second day after surgery. There are no scars on the chest.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D.

TAVR has been studied in large numbers of high-risk patients with severe aortic stenosis, showing excellent results and favorable outcomes.  It is supported by major medical society guidelines. (2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease content/129/23/e521.full)

Is TAVR Right for You?

If you have been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, talk to your cardiologist to find out whether TAVR is appropriate for you.

Mitul Kadakia, M.D., is a Sutter Health affiliated cardiologist at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center and part of the Alta Bates Summit Heart Team along with Drs. David Daniels and Russell Stanten. Together, they have performed more than 140 TAVR procedures with outcomes that have exceeded national benchmarks. To learn more, visit or contact us at 510-869-6700.


Ask An Expert About Heart Disease in Women

Posted on Feb 2, 2016

By Vindhya Hindnavis, M.D.

Sutter Health

plastic heart sitting on echocardiogram print outQ: Are symptoms of coronary artery disease the same in women and men?

A: Too often, women are unaware that coronary artery disease is a serious health risk and don’t get evaluated for heart disease, even though it could save their lives. Chest pain is a common symptom in men and women, but they often experience it differently.

Men tend to feel sharp chest pain during physical exertion, while in women, chest pain may occur with exertion or with emotional stress alone. Women also may experience unexplained fatigue or shortness of breath.

On average, women develop coronary artery disease 10 years later than men. This may be due to the protective role estrogen is thought to play in preventing heart disease. With menopause, estrogen levels drop, which may place women at greater risk for the disease.

Although men and women can have high LDL cholesterol, women naturally have higher levels of the “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol than men, which helps remove the “bad” LDL cholesterol from arteries. So, low HDL levels in women are a serious risk factor for heart disease.

Vindhya Hindnavis M.D.

Vindhya Hindnavis M.D.

African-American and Latina/Hispanic women have a greater prevalence of certain risk factors.

The Basics of Coronary Artery Disease

This type of heart disease occurs when fat and cholesterol, known as plaque, build up in the vessels that supply blood to the heart. The plaque narrows the blood vessels, which reduces the flow of blood. Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot forms on the plaque and cuts off the blood supply to the heart.

What’s Your Risk?

Common risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol 
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of exercise

Stress Test Often Used to Diagnose

A cardiac stress test is often used to diagnose coronary artery disease by monitoring the heart’s electrical activity and pumping performance. However, even when their hearts are healthy, women are more likely than men to show irregularities during cardiac stress tests. This can create a false positive for heart disease, so doctors also use an imaging test to confirm the results of stress tests in women.

If you are diagnosed with the disease, many effective medications and interventions are equally successful in men and women.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Prevent a heart attack by catching heart disease before symptoms begin. Have your cholesterol and blood pressure levels checked regularly beginning at age 45. You can also reduce your risk for coronary artery disease by

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a diet low in fat, salt and simple sugars
  • Exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes, five times a week)
  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain optimal cholesterol and blood pressure values

February is American Heart Month. Take the opportunity to talk with your doctor about your heart health. Find exceptional cardiovascular care in the East Bay.



Your Child’s Back-to-School Health and Safety Checklist

Posted on Aug 14, 2015

Back-to-school health and safety checklistTo get the school year off to a safe and healthy start, Lisa A. Hills, M.D., Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation pediatrician, recommends:

  • Annual physical exam: Your pediatrician will discuss your child’s height, body mass index, vision, hearing and blood pressure as well as discuss sports-related issues with student athletes and important emotional/behavioral issues with and teens.

    Lisa A. Hills, M.D., Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

    Lisa A. Hills, M.D. Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

  • Vaccinations: Check to see if your child is missing any required immunizations. Also ask about immunizations that are recommended but not required, such as the flu vaccine.
  • Emergency contact information: Your child’s school should have up-to-date emergency numbers, including the contact information for you and your pediatrician as well as a list of your child’s medications, physical impairments and medical conditions.
  • Child passenger safety: Buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats and seat belts reduce serious and fatal injuries by more than half.
  • Pedestrian safety: Children 9 or younger should always cross the street with an adult. The safest place for your child to cross the street is at a street corner or intersection. At any street crossing, before stepping off the curb, your child should stop and look left-right-left to see if any cars are coming.
  • Backpack tips: Carrying a backpack shouldn’t be a workout for your child. Pack the bag as lightly as possible, with heavier items in the center compartment. The load should never be more than 10% to 20% of her body weight. Backpacks with wheels are a good option.
  • Hand washing: Prevent the spread of germs at school. Teach your child proper hand washing technique: Rub hands together with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds. Remind your kids to cough and sneeze into their sleeves and send them to school with antiviral hand gel to use frequently.
  • Sleep schedule: A lack of sleep can negatively affect school performance. Be sure to get your kids on a regular sleep schedule. Limit nighttime TV, video games, cell phone chats or anything that prevents your child from getting a good night’s rest.

Read More

Ask the Expert: Are You at Risk for a Urinary Tract Infection?

Posted on Jul 29, 2015


Jonathan Lynne, M.D., MPH, Family Medicine, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

Q: I’ve heard urinary tract infections (UTIs) are getting harder to treat. Why is this and who’s at risk of developing one?

Jonathan Lynne, M.D., MPH, answered:

UTIs are one of the most common infections doctors treat: More than half of women living in the United States will get a UTI. Urinary tract infections are caused by microorganisms—usually bacteria—that enter the urethra and bladder, causing inflammation and infection. UTIs are more common in women because women have a shorter urethra than men do. That means bacteria travel a shorter distance to a woman’s bladder. Read More

Ask An Expert About Endoscopic Ultrasound

Posted on May 26, 2015

Vinod K. Kurupath, M.D.

Vinod K. Kurupath, M.D.

Vinod K. Kurupath, M.D.


Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

I have been diagnosed with a digestive disorder and I may be a candidate for an endoscopic ultrasound. What are the benefits of this procedure?

 In conventional endoscopy, the gastroenterologist can only view the innermost lining of the digestive tract. Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) allows a doctor to get very close to the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, liver and gallbladder and look beyond the inner layers. Read More